What is Copyright?
Copyright refers to a collection of exclusive rights designed to protect the creators of original works of authorship, which includes virtually any type of creative work, such as books, music recordings, movies, paintings, photographs, software, architectural works, and more.
These rights are “exclusive” in that only the copyright owner can exercise them – if anyone else does, they are committing copyright infringement.
What Can a Copyright Lawyer Do For You?
Like all areas of intellectual property law, many of the principles behind copyright law are counter-intuitive, abstract, and conceptual. Being a form of intangible property, it makes sense that copyright law involves few concretes. Accordingly, it takes a special mind to be a good copyright lawyer. Furthermore, misconceptions about copyright law, perhaps more so than any other area of law, abound among the general public.
These misconceptions include confusion between the basic forms of intellectual property (copyright, trademarks, patents) and the differences between them, as well as a few urban myths about the law that refuse to die – such as the ever popular “poor man’s copyright” – the notion that you can mail a copy of your work to yourself in order to prove ownership (without going into detail, suffice it to say that this will not help you in any way).
Do I Need a Copyright Lawyer?
If you have created an original work of authorship, and plan to publish or otherwise make economic use of it, or if you simply want to prevent others from using it without your permission, you should contact a copyright lawyer.
A copyright lawyer can assist you in registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office (this is not a requirement for copyright protection, but it creates nearly irrefutable proof of ownership of the work, and allows the owner to recover damages that cannot be recovered if the work is not registered), can help draft a cease-and-desist letter if you think your work is being infringed, and can help you pursue legal action against an infringer, if it comes to that.
Furthermore, if you intend to sell your copyright to a third party, an attorney experienced in copyright licensing could of great assistance to you – drafting the licensing agreement to ensure that your intentions are met, and to avoid placing ambiguities into the contract that might compromise the entire transaction.
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Last Modified: 09-01-2009 12:13 PM PDT
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